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We've been feeding our layers Blue Seal organic pellets and after a slowdown earlier this winter, around 30 hens were producing roughly 12 - 15 eggs a day. Then Tractor Supply had trouble getting their feed order in, so we had to pick up a bag of a different brand of organic feed from a nearby farmer on February 15th.
As soon as we switched to Countryside, though, the egg production went way down. Right now we're getting four eggs a day and that's it. Tractor Supply finally got Blue Seal in stock so right now we've mixed the feeds and are working back to all Blue Seal, but they're still not doing well.
Was it the change in feed or does anyone have any other ideas? We are still supplementing with a bit of sunflower seed in the afternoon, which has helped in the past, but we're spending a lot of money for feed for very little product! And our customers are getting frustrated.
A friend just told me that she feeds Countryside and her hens are laying well. We are not at all happy about 1/3 production, especially considering how expensive organic feed is. Don't know if it's the brand or the change that has triggered this.
Mine will stop laying if I try to change out their feed. I had to change brands last year as the local feed store stopped selling the brand I had been feeding them. I had to wait a few weeks before they bounced back. A kind person here on the forum suggested I give them some cabbage. So I threw a few heads in and they started laying again. I don't know if chasing the cabbage heads around their run distracted them or built up their appetites, if it just took them a few weeks to start eating the new feed as they should have, if Brahmas are just goofy, or as conbination of the above was what blew them off their routine; but the cabbage incident was what got them going again. I think I have weird chickens.
I have an even doz hens. The have all laid an egg per day, last fall but with winter now and the up and down temps and no heat, to speak of, in their shed, the production did go down a little but they still average 9 eggs per day. I have a light bulb under their water just to keep it from freezing. When there was snow on the ground they didn't go out until they were used to it being there. I was aware of not changing their feed although I have picked up a different brand once in a while and I did notice a little drop in production but it seemed to work out, by blending the feed back to what I had been getting.
I like the fresh eggs but a doz. hens is almost more of a bother than their worth even with selling all the extra eggs. but it's something to do.
What kind of chickens do you have, randbponder? They sound like excellent laying hens. Are they young birds? Mine always lay very well the first year and then start dropping off a bit. The ones we have now are a mixture of first year birds to four or five year birds.
We also add extra light during the winter months, which is usually helpful.
These are a cross with RRs and Plymoth Rock called Red Sex Links. I've been feeding them a 16% protean mix. But your right too they are still within their first year.
I was told that going with a larger breed that they would be more productive through the winter than most lighter breeds, so that was one reason for them.
But I'm beginning to think I may put them in the soup kettle, as I seem to be coming down again with another sinus infection. It's possible that they may be the cause, as this is only the second spring that I've had chickens since getting older and it was last spring and now this spring, Or at least about the same time again. I surely don't need those nasty cluster headaches again. So making use of them in another way might be best for me.
I have some Red Sex Links too; they lay huge eggs and rarely miss a day. They kept laying all winter while some of the others took a break.I've heard they may stop laying at a younger age than some of the old heritage breeds, but mine are only two years old.
huge or jumbo is right. That was another factor in choosing the
I come up with 1 Black Sex Link. Somehow or another two of them wondered into a neighbors yard and his dog got one of them. Nobody seemed to know whose they were, eventually the one live one got brought to me. Didn't have any problems putting it in with the reds.
randbponder, I don't think your hens are the cause of your synus infections. My mon lives in Central IL and she has gotten synus infections every spring for the last three years. She's never had one before. Her doctor told her is was partly caused by a shift in weather/wind patterns and pollen patterns. Her doctor said there are elevated reports of synus infections all over the lower 48 States. Mom doesn't have any chickens.
Terri; I may be grabbing at straws with that idea, but I would do nearly anything to avoid the really sharp cluster headaches that went with the last bout. I went to ER at least 5 times for a shot or two of some relaxant or another as it felt as though someone had driven a RR spike into my head then hit the spike with a torch for good measure. Before I finally had the ( sinus rotor rooter) procedure.
But true since I caught it early this time and went on antibiotics I have only had 1 in that location of my head.
I will keep the chickens a while longer as I like the nice big fresh eggs.
Part of the cluster headaches with the sinus infection, I am sure has to do with the skull fracture I got in 09 with the tire accident.
To get back to the original point of this thread, the chickens are slowly increasing their production but I don't know whether it's due to our mixing back their old food with the new, or what it is. We're up to about seven eggs a day, which is better than four but not much! At least it only takes two days instead of three or four to make up a dozen...
Maybe they were using some of the old feed to ferment the alcohol for the upcoming spring break. The new feed threw them off and they went into a funk about not having enough brewsky for the holiday. Who knows what goes on in the coop when we are not around? ☺
Seriously, I think it might have at least partly been the change of feed.
That's all I can think of, Terri and Porkpal! In the past we have occasionally found a hen hoarding eggs behind a handy rosebush or under a juniper tree, but that would only be one hen, and it doesn't account for the overall drop in production. If they really want alcohol, though, the wine room is right by their henhouse; they get the mash in the fall and really like it!
Glad for you that they are coming back around. I kind of remember the folks having older chickens go into a molt and not lay for a while, but I think I was quite young at the time. Was probably 2 or 3, so don't remember much else.
Greenhouse_gal, I'm looking on the Tractor Supply website and I don't see anything organic at all. I tried searching "layers Blue Seal organic pellets" and even the word organic brings forth nothing, except some potting soil.
They don't offer it in their store; they order it in for people who want it. At least ours does. I think ours is going to start displaying it on the floor now, though, because since we started getting it, several other customers have begun using it too.
It's Blue Seal's organic feed, called OrganicLife, and Tractor Supply carries other Blue Seal products. When DH called this morning to see if they had any in they told him that they now had ten other customers for that product! I'd love to know why people are going that route.
I had forgotten that the trigger to getting the chickens started back laying this winter was the change from a CFL bulb to a standard incandescent in the henhouse. That seemed to make a big difference.
I'll have to check out the TS organic feeds. I've tried the organic feed from the Farmers Co-op but it has a bit of a burnt odor to it. I think they might "cook" it too long. I noticed that the hens don't seem to eat as much of it. Don't know if that is bad or good...
Don't know. Just that the feed often smells like burned molasess.
We had a feed mill in the town where I grew up. My grandpa worked there and when he would smell such an amora as he drove me by the plant to the Dairy Queen he would tell me that the process was too hot and the feed was burning. He had worked there for so long he could tell just by driving by and smelling how hot the process was. I don't know if they still make pelletized feed that way, but the smell of this feed is very similar.